Hong Kong native and Notre Dame Research Associate Maggie Shum told Reuters on Thursday she “cried tears of joy” upon hearing the news that Hong Kong residents living in the U.S. would be given a temporary “safe haven.”
SHUM: “So this just sort of opened the floodgates and, you know, so I cried happy tears talking to my friends and just, I feel like, you know, it's a good feeling."
Her reaction came after U.S. President Joe Biden offered "safe haven" for up to 18 months to Hong Kong residents in the U.S.
The White House move comes in response to Beijing's crackdown on democracy in the Chinese territory.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki:
“Obviously, our hope and our objective and our work on the international forum is to change a behavior that is happening and the oppression that we're seeing of the people in Hong Kong. But certainly this step is one that is meant to ensure we are practicing what we preach in terms of human rights values and ensuring that people who are in this country don't face the ongoing repression that we're seeing in Hong Kong.”
It is the latest in a series of actions Biden has taken to address what his administration says is the erosion of the rule of law in the former British colony, which returned to Beijing's control in 1997.
Last year China implemented a new law in Hong Kong to criminalize what it considers subversion, secessionism, “terrorism” or collusion with foreign forces.
The White House said in a statement that the U.S. "will not stand idly by” as the People’s Republic of China “breaks its promises to Hong Kong and to the international community."
Some U.S. lawmakers want the administration to do more. Republican Senator Ben Sasse called the safe haven move a "solid step," but said the U.S. government needs to go further and offer full asylum to Hong Kong residents in the U.S.